An aluminum can is a container for packaging made primarily of aluminum. It is commonly used for foods and beverages but also for products such as oil, chemicals, and other liquids. The common 12-ounce-size can weighs 15 grams when empty. Use of aluminum in cans began in 1957. Aluminum is less costly than tin-plated steel but offers the same resistance to corrosion in addition to greater malleability resulting in ease of manufacture; this gave rise to the two-piece can, where all but the top of the can is simply stamped out of a single piece of aluminum, rather than laboriously constructed from two pieces of steel. A label is either printed directly on the side of the can or will be glued to the outside of the curved surface, indicating its contents.
Most aluminum cans are made of two pieces. The bottom and body are “drawn” or “drawn and ironed” from a flat plate or shallow cup. After filling, the can “end” is sealed onto the top of the can.
The advantages of aluminum over steel (tinplated) cans include:
- Light weight
- Competitive cost
- Usage of easy-open aluminum ends: no need for a can opener
- Clean appearance
- Aluminum does not rust
Aluminum cans are often made with recycled aluminum; approximately 68% of a standard North American can is recycled aluminum. Cans are the most recycled beverage container, at a rate of 69% worldwide.
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